Protect your crowning glory
We can all suffer from those bad hair days but for some people it can be even worse. Hair loss and thinning is a becoming more common in women and men at a younger age. This can be caused by hormonal changes, autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, and stress.
However, diet can also strongly influence hair health. Even the growing popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets could be contributing to millennial hair loss due to the lack of certain amino acids. We are also exposed to higher levels of chemicals in hair treatments and our environment.
Unfortunately, what really causes harm to the person experiencing hair loss goes largely unseen. These are the dreaded feelings of shame, lack of confidence, and inadequacy. In an age where we are over-exposed to celebrities and social media these feelings lead to greater stress and mental health issues which accelerate the problems.
To end the suffering let’s look at 3 factors that damage your hair and what to do about them.
Before we figure out why stress causes hair loss we have to look at the typical growing cycle of hair. It is split into 4 phases that last a variety of timeframes. The Growth or Anagen phase usually lasts between 2 and 6 years. The hair then enters the Catagen phase in which the follicle experiences a slight shrinkage. This only lasts just a few days.
Hair then enters the Telogen Phase. This is a holding phase where the hair remains stable. Then the lifecycle of the hair ends in the Exogen stage as it dies and falls out.
This lifecycle is continuous and the average person loses 50 - 100 hairs daily.
However, studies have shown that high levels of stress disrupt the hair lifecycle in the Growth or Anagen phase. Hair exits this phase far quicker under stress and accelerates the time to the Exogen phase. Thus leading to greater hair loss.
But what can be done about it? Research has also shown that modern life has become more stressful due to greater feelings of isolation. Finding ways to manage stress is not easy but two proven and simple methods are improved diet and exercise. We recommend taking a long walk every day and starting a food journal so you can see where you are get nutrient dense meals and where you can improve.
Research* conducted in 2017 by Dr. Emily L. Guo, a resident physician at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, indicated that severely reduced protein consumption as well as deficiencies in zinc, vitamin D, iron and other nutrients can negatively affect hair growth. Finding ways to supplement for these deficiencies can lead to better hair health and reduced loss.
One of the key factors that lead to vegans suffering from hair loss is that they struggle to get the collagen replacement from their diets. Vegan diets generally lack iron because the best source of absorbable iron comes from animal proteins (meat). Without the iron their bodies can’t synthesise Hydroxyproline, a requirement for the stabilisation of collagen and the maintenance of connective tissue - like keratin for hair.
Other forms of collagen absorption, such as ingestion of Hydrolysed Collagen peptides, can provide the necessary amino acids. One of these amino acids is Proline, the main component of Keratin which the body needs to produce healthy hair and nails. Unfortunately, pure collagen is never vegan so consistent supplementation with a range vitamins and minerals is required to ward off hair damage.
A study was conducted on women who were suffering hair thinning and loss. The study showed perceived improvements in overall hair volume, scalp coverage, and thickness of hair body after 90 days of taking a collagen supplement. Additional improvement after 180 days included hair shine, skin moisture retention, and skin smoothness. Oral supplementation with collagen was shown to effectively promote significant hair growth in women with temporary hair thinning.
Your favourite hair salon is like a science laboratory: filled with chemicals and heat. These are all aimed at your hair and can lead to all sorts of trouble. Your scalp, follicles and hair strands are the 3 main components of a healthy head of hair. Damaging any of these 3 through exposure to environmental factors can lead to thinning and loss of hair.
Protecting your scalp and follicles is important. The scalp is the source of nutrition and follicles are there to build the hair structure. So be careful exposing your scalp to strong chemicals that can burn the skin, cause scarring and permanently damage hair follicles.
A simple test of whether you have experienced scalp damage after a treatment is if you show signs of excessive dryness, redness, rashes or itchiness. Similarly, hair gels and waxes tend to settle down on scalp skin blocking the pores and thus hinder skin breathing. This can adversely affect hair follicle health, weakens and constricts them and eventually result in hair thinning and loss.
Hair strands can become weakened, brittle and can lose their lustre when exposed to heat from drying and straightening tools. While coloring, bleaching and rebonding can disrupt the keratin disulphide bonds that keep hair strong. This compromises the strength and moisture-retaining capacity of hair strands, precipitating dryness and breakage. If you already experience hair loss and are serious about improving your hairs condition then avoid exposure to treatments that require excessive heat and chemicals
We’re hair for you
You don’t need to suffer with hair loss. Making some simple changes and focusing on your own well-being above all else can lead to improvements. Kickstart the longevity of your hair by starting a healthy habit with Be Bright
*Guo EL, Katta R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017 Jan 31;7(1):1-10. doi: 10.5826/dpc.0701a01. PMID: 28243487; PMCID: PMC5315033.